Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sims, Clarence A.||Novak, Ralph S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Business Administration


Age and employment; Small business--Management


PROBLEM: Though much literature has been built up through the years attacking and/or defending generalizations about the older workers, there has been a lack of specific information about small businesses which have gained competitive advantage through the use of older workers. Therefore, this study was undertaken to determine the degree of utilization of older workers and to discover policies which have had a direct effect upon the use of these workers by small business enterprises. This study was limited to the geographic area of Cook County in the State of Illinois. PROCEDURE: The problem was to determine by means of questionnaires and follow-up in-depth interviews, whether small business enterprises were utilizing older workers. The Small Business Administration was contacted and it provided backing for the study by supplying cover letters for the questionnaires. The cover letter stated their interest and consent toward this study and was included with each questionnaire. Upon receipt of answered questionnaire, those which seemed to hold special interest and significance were followed with in-depth interviews in an attempt to obtain specific information on policies, implementation of these policies, and finally results obtained by specific companies. CONCLUSIONS: The questionnaire response showed that 94.8 percent of the small businesses sampled hired personnel over the age of forty-five. Sixty-one and five tenths percent of the companies said that they did hire people over sixty years of age. In addition, 79.0 percent of the companies reported that they retained workers beyond a normal retirement age. Thus, the majority of responding companies did utilize older personnel in their everyday work force. Mutual loyalty develops over the years and the employer seems to feel that he owes the employee something more than a mandatory retirement for long and devoted service. Older workers have many good traits which overcome their minor physical impairments such as, low absenteeism rates, conscientious service, loyalty, few demands for break time, willing to grant the employer "eight hours work for eight hours pay." Unions bargaining with small businesses do not attempt to force retirement policies upon these companies. Small businesses generally do not consider age as a prime issue when staffing a position; rather they attempt to hire the most skilled personnel they can attract. Generally if the company is seasonally affected a standby roster of older workers is kept for such periods. This applies also for part-time work, and special assignments and projects which can be handled at the home or office. Several companies revealed that they retain older workers because the skill they possess is not replaceable today. The study revealed that older workers can be a bigger asset to companies than they first realize.


Includes bibliographical references.


110 pages, 6 unnumbered pages




Northern Illinois University

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